Geffen - 2004 - 59 minutes

With their 14th album The Cure seem to have steadied a pulse that had been irregular for 10 years or more and crafted an album that is remarkably forward looking for a band with this much mileage on the clock.

'Labyrinth' and 'Before Three', two of the earlier and more accomplished tracks, combine their typically dense sound with a focus that has been absent for years. Producer Ross Robinson, known for his work with bands such as Limp Bizkit and Korn, has allowed the sound of live music to dominate the record, an organic sound that dispels the staleness that affected recent releases.

The song 'Going Nowhere' provides one of the album's finer moments. With its relaxed and contented pace it seems more natural than the forced angst of 'Us or Them', seeing as they really should have a lot less to complain about these days. Thankfully The Cure have never been the types to be swayed unduly by the expectations of others, and this self-titled album finds them focusing on what they do best with remarkable clarity.

Not much will trouble the sharp-end of the pop charts, but there seems to be little desire to push the music in that direction. Although the yardstick of 'Disintegration' has towered over each new release for years, they have never seemed more comfortable in its shadow.

While the high points stand in sharp relief to a decade of mediocrity, this is not the great album to rival their best that many fans still hope for, but it does suggest that not all of their best days are behind them.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: Lost – Labyrinth – Before Three – Truth Goodness And Beauty – The End Of The World – Anniversary – Us Or Them – Alt.End – (I Don't Know What's Going) On – Taking Off – Never – The Promise – Going Nowhere